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Ironman Florida - Triathlon

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Panama City Beach, Florida
United States
World Triathlon Corporation
85F / 29C
Total Time = 11h 55m 47s
Overall Rank = 477/2980
Age Group = 40-44
Age Group Rank = 106/455
Pre-race routine:

Awoken from my slumber about 3:30 to the rhythmic sounds of the waves crashing upon the beach just outside my hotel. This is such a soothing and relaxing sound, until your morning fogginess clears and you realize that you are NOT on vacation and that you will soon be swimming 2.4 miles in that surfer's paradise.

Fired up the coffee pot and grabbed my tablet to check on the weather for the day. Sweet! its 3 hours from sunrise and its 71 degrees and 98% humidity. Highs were projected to be in the 80s with a chance of showers, so butter thick humidity was most certainly on tap for the whole day. Awesome-sauce! Post race review revealed that the NWS had PCB with a high temp of 85 degrees and the lowest humidity of the day at 69%. So much for the nice cooler temps of NW Florida this time of year.

Had my pre-race gorge fest breakfast of a bagel with jelly, a Bonk Breaker bar, a banana, a small peanut butter sandwich and a bunch of Gatorade. Headed out of the hotel around 4:45, drove to the Wally-world parking lot and hopped on the shuttle to the site.
Event warmup:

Didn't need to "warm-up" since it was likely 75 degrees by the time the race started, but I did get in the water pre-staging to get wet and to see how tough it was going to be to get out past the surf.
  • 1h 32m 3s
  • 3800 meters
  • 02m 25s / 100 meters

So the race was non-wet suit (for the first time, so I'm told) and I wanted to get started as soon as possible so I opted to not wear one and start at the regular time.

This was also the first year of the non-mass start. They had corrals set up for self-seeding based on your expected finish time. Although in all honesty it was more of a mass-rolling start in that once you corralled up they just let everyone walk down to the water's edge and jump in. There was no delay between groups or anything like that, we were just a bunch of lemmings being funneled nonstop into the water through a 20 foot wide chute.

Once in the water there were a bunch of folks trying to run/walk/wade out into deeper water but I decided that wasn't the best plan. The waves were pretty big and strong so walking out you didn't get too far in shin-deep water before being met with a crashing wave that was chest high. My plan was to get into the water and then dive though the waves and dolphin kick as long as I could. This got me out into swim-able water fairly easily and I didn't have to "fight" the waves as much.

Once I was swimming I just kept telling myself to stick to the plan, swim easy and don't let the rest of the day get away. It was a bit more of a challenge than I had hoped but I was able to swim out and make the turn on the first lap without much in the way of "issues"... no water polo action, took in some salt water but not too much, and I stayed fairly well on course. Overall a win! After the short length going parallel to shore we made the next turn and headed back to shore. This is where I figured I'd make up time and/or conserve some energy. For all the fighting against the surf going out we had it now pushing us back into shore. I came back up on the beach to start my second lap and grabbed a bit of water.

The second lap went much like the first, except it was slower by about 6 minutes. I heard others say that the conditions got progressively worse so that may have something to do with it, plus I'm sure that I was just more worn out as well. After the second lap I got out of the water and took to the shower to get the salt and sand off. I did pay extra attention to rinsing off my tri shorts, since I wouldn't be changing clothes this time and I didn't want to risk getting any sandpaper effect from salt and/or sand once on the bike.
What would you do differently?:

Not too much really. I had my race plan set with a 1:30 swim. Given the surf conditions, and the lack of wet suit I was pretty happy with a 1:32. I will place here, my usual comment about my lack of swimming ability, how I need to swim more, how I need to get some real coaching, yada, yada, yada.
Transition 1
  • 10m 20s

Transition was fairly easy. It was a bit of a jog off the beach and through the parking lot to get to the tent. I didn't change clothes this time so I knew that I'd save a bit of time in transition. My time was still fairly slow but for this distance race, I'm more concerned with forgetting something than I am with shaving off 60 seconds.

My bike was racked a bit of a ways from the tent and I didn't get a volunteer until I was just about to my rack, so I had to trot along in my bike shoes pretty much the whole way. This cost me some time as well, but no big deal.
What would you do differently?:

Not much, I can speed things up I'm sure but overall I'm fine with 10 minutes.
  • 5h 46m 56s
  • 112 miles
  • 19.37 mile/hr

It felt nice to be out of the water and I was looking forward to a nice ride. I knew that after the swim being pretty much spot on to my race plan, I had a real shot at going sub 11:30 (at least I though that, more later). The swim was, in my mind, the biggest crap shoot. My bike isn't great but I was very comfortable with turning in a 5:45 unless I had some mechanical issues.

The first few miles on the bike were the usual effort getting settled in and shaking the legs out. Once we made the turn onto 79 I was pretty settled, I had had my first Bonkbreaker bar and I was ready to get to work. The road was fairly open and I didn't see too much in the way of the infamous IMFL draft packs. I saw a bit of clustering along the way but nothing that was major or what I would consider intentional.

At the last aid station before SN, I decided to stop to pee. I figured that the SN stop would be crowded so I wanted to avoid as much of a delay as I could. When I stopped the port-o-lets were full but no line so I used the time to stretch out a bit. This stop in total cost me ~3:30, but it was worth it.

All in all the bike was fairly uneventful for me so there isn't much to say. The last couple miles back to the beach on 79 and the 6 or 7 miles along Front Beach were a bit tough. Mentally I was done with ridding, I wanted to get to the run. Additionally the breeze had picked up some and I found that my same effort output resulted in about 2 MPH slower speed so that didn't help things much.
What would you do differently?:

Again, not too much. I had planned on a 5:45 bike split and I pretty well nailed that. In fact my "moving time" according to my Garmin was 5:43:32 so if not for the port-o-let break I would've come in under goal. Maybe I should just let it fly on the bike. But then again, no. At ~ 12 hours, I'll just stop and take the few minute penalty of peeing like a human being.
Transition 2
  • 11m 17s

Surprisingly, this was comparatively much slower than I thought it would be. My plan had me putting in a 5-7 minute T2. Some things that cost me: 1) I spent some time cleaning up. the roads got wet from the rain and I had a bunch of dirt and grit on my legs and since I was putting on my compression socks I wanted to clean up. 2) I put my first sock on upside down (I roll them to aid in getting them on) so I had to pull it off and put it back on again.3) since I rinsed off my legs my feet and legs were now wet which made the donning of the socks a bit more difficult.
What would you do differently?:

Eh, not much other than move faster I guess. The sock issue was my own fault and cleaning up my legs was time well spent since the irritation would have likely driven me nuts for the next 26.2 miles.
  • 4h 15m 11s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 09m 44s  min/mile

So I figured that coming out of T2 I was golden for my 11:30, I pretty much hit all my plan goals and only used up 9 minutes of my 15 minute padding. That meant that in reality my planned 3:45 run only had to be around a 3:50 and I would hit my goal. No problem, I'm a runner before everything else... this was in the bag! Or so I thought.

Straight out of T2 my diaphragm was hurting. This happens to me on occasion, but it is usually in shorter races where I'm going balls to the wall. I knew from experience that I could manage the pain while running 8:30s but it wouldn't be fun. I clocked my first mile in exactly 8:30 but mentally this was an issue. Normally I have to hold myself back in the first mile or so and even then I end up running faster than I want to... this time the first mile hurt the whole way and "only" made my target pace. Uh oh.

The next few miles went much the same way... the diaphragm hurt and I struggled to keep my race pace. It was in these few miles that I was also feeling the effect of the heat and humidity, it was really tough going and I took on ice whenever I could to try to stay cool. By mile 5 or so I was really struggling and by this point high 8 minute miles were the norm. Mile 6 clocked in at a 9:21. With only 1 leg of the 2 out and back loops done, I knew that my remaining time cushion wouldn't be enough.

At this point I changed into do the best you can mode, with the revised goal of making sure I came in under 12 hours. I slogged though the next 20.2 miles; taking ice, water, BASE, and sponges whenever I could. It was tough going for me but I kept on keeping on and put out as much effort as I could.

Coming in at 4:15 was pretty disappointing, seeing as I was looking for a 3:45. The course was pancake flat, but the heat and humidity were the biggest "hills" on the course for me.
What would you do differently?:

Don't really know. The heat hurt, the humidity hurt, the diaphragm hurt, not too much I could've done about any of that.
Post race
Warm down:

Walked for a bit, got a space blanket, and had some cold pizza and warm soda.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

I think that the heat and humidity were the biggest challenge, with a sprinkling of some red-tide breathing issues.

Event comments:

Overall this was a fun race and I really enjoyed things. I would do it again, but only after I get a few other ones done that I'd like to do. The volunteers were awesome, as always, and I enjoyed the "town" as race-cation location.

Last updated: 2015-11-11 12:00 AM
01:32:03 | 3800 meters | 02m 25s / 100meters
Age Group: 263/455
Overall: 1385/2980
Performance: Average
Suit: None
Course: Two loop with short beach run in between
Start type: Run Plus: Waves
Water temp: 77F / 25C Current: High
200M Perf. Bad Remainder: Average
Breathing: Average Drafting: Average
Waves: Average Navigation: Average
Rounding: Average
Time: 10:20
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Good
05:46:56 | 112 miles | 19.37 mile/hr
Age Group: 195/455
Overall: 933/2980
Performance: Average
142 Avg HR, 163 Max HR.
Wind: Some
Course: One big loop with a few out-and-back sections.
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Not enough
Time: 11:17
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes Average
Jumping off bike Average
Running with bike Average
Racking bike Average
Shoe and helmet removal Average
04:15:11 | 26.2 miles | 09m 44s  min/mile
Age Group: 106/455
Overall: 477/2980
Performance: Below average
143 Avg HR, 164 Max HR.
Course: Two loop out and back.
Keeping cool Below average Drinking Not enough
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 3
Physical exertion [1-5] 2
Good race? Ok
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

2015-11-18 3:13 PM

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Washington, DC Metro
Subject: Ironman Florida

2015-11-19 5:36 AM
in reply to: #5152729

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Subject: RE: Ironman Florida
Wow, great time! I didn't care for the stretch on Front Beach Road, it was very congested by the time I rolled through there. Congratuiations!
2015-11-19 1:42 PM
in reply to: abake

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Subject: RE: Ironman Florida

Great job out there! You just can't predict where the day may not go as planned - so sorry you were disappointed though, it seems you have quite a lot of perspective about it! Congrats on putting together a very solid race in some tough conditions! 

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